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Ready Readers Program plans to expand its volunteers

A free, early literacy program looking to help 60 additional kids

MUNCIE, Ind. (NEWSLINK) --- What started as a small tutoring service to help 1 to 5-year-old kids learn how to read is now serving 38-40 Muncie kids anywhere from 2 years old to fifth grade.

Katie Lehman, Ready Readers supervisor for Muncie Public Library, started the program in 2016, originally for kids on the Southside of Muncie. Now, the program reaches all kids in Muncie.

Currently Lehman and Sidney Barkdull, Ready Readers specialist, are the only two teaching students in the program how to read. They hope to gain more help through a literacy tutor training series.

Lehman said the training series will include volunteers ranging from 16 years old to 70. They are adding 12 new people by the end of April which will help 60 additional kids.

Those volunteers will help at the Maring-Hunt library branch and at the YMCA.

“Sidney and I serve 38 to 40 students any semester. There are hundreds if not going into a thousand in Muncie that need help,” Lehman said.

Lehman said they are also planning on moving upstairs in the library in the next couple of months. They will have a new space with more additions like a comfy corner, a parent chill-out station and sensory friendly areas.

Barkdull, who is the second full-time worker for the Ready Readers Program, said flexibility and patience are two really big things that she learned. Her favorite part about being a part of the program is getting to know the families.

As a Muncie local, Barkdull said she knows the community on a personal level.

“Muncie is my home. It’s where I’ve been my whole life and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. There is a very rich culture in Muncie,” Barkdull said.

The Ready Readers Program is looking at expanding outside of the Muncie Area. Lehman said they are trying to spread to Illinois, and then eventually more of the Midwest. She hopes to one day take it national.

Contact Katherine Sehgal with comments at klsehgal@bsu.edu.